September 15, 2016 - 8:00 PM
KAMLOOPS - Bunker Road may get its name from the WW2 bunkers it leads to, but some might think it has to do with the large, fortified building near the end of the street.
With no signs or logos outside, the building at 1460 Bunker Rd. often raises questions by locals; whether they spot it from afar (it's just west of Thompson Rivers University), or see it when they end up at the end of McGill Road.
Simply put, it’s a data centre housing private digital clouds.
The site is owned by Q9, a Canadian company running data centres across the country with a guarantee they’ll be online 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
While users may know they have data in the digital cloud, like photos on iPhoto, they don't necessarily know where it's stored. Q9 specializes in private clouds, so clients know exactly where that data is, and that it's secure, the company's western region vice president Richard Roskey says.
While it may look a like something out of a James Bond film Roskey says, the reality isn’t quite as glamorous as the silver screen super spy.
The main tenant of the Kamloops centre is the B.C. government. When going online to access provincial government or crown corporation websites, there's a good chance you're connecting with Q9.
“They go there because they need 100 per cent up time,” Roskey says. “It’s the redundancies; the 100 per cent up time on power.”
Kamloops is a good home for the centre for a few reasons. It’s a big enough city for the power needs to be met and other basic requirements, like an airport. It’s also more seismically stable than the lower mainland or Vancouver Island, where a big earthquake could threaten a data centre's uptime. The fact it's inside B.C is also essential for the provincial government.
There are other companies that use the centre, Roskey says, from a two person business up to a financial corporation, but he wouldn't name names for privacy reasons.
"It’s not the size of the company, it’s the requirements of the business," he says. "We make sure they can always get that data."
The building was the first ground up facility for Q9, and they added in plenty of security features. The stone walled pedestal the buildings sit on gives the whole structure an aloof presence. The big black gates are essentially vehicle proof, Roskey says.
At the front desk guests need to sign in, which is no big surprise, but then keycards and fingerprint scans are needed to get to where the data is stored, with multiple checkpoints. Depending on the guests, they may be escorted to their area and back out.
The inside is not quite as exciting as the fortification, with halls filled with computers and the systems to keep them running, including an effecient environmental system helped by Kamloops's weather. The building has a full-time staff of about 20 employees, including security, technical support staff and an electrician. Client companies may keep people on site as well.
The site seems large now, but it may still grow. There are currently three single megawatt halls in use, or about half of the potential for the centre. A fourth hall has been built and is ready to use, while there’s also space and a plan for two more halls to be constructed.
No word on when there might be an addition, but if the right client comes along, like Apple or another company with cloud computing needs, Roskey says the additional halls may be added.
“Companies buy big swaths,” he says. “They could come in and take one whole data hall.”
Go here for a virtual tour of the inside of a Q9 data storage facility.
To read about the WW2 bunkers on Bunker Road click here.
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